Steve Russell: Supreme Court weighs diversity in education

"This term, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case about affirmative action in university admissions, where my alma mater is on the side of diversity for a change. Most observers agree diversity is likely to lose, but if that happens it does not mean Indians have to quit banging on the doors of higher education.

Indians know diversity, and knew it before Columbus got lost. My people, woodland hunters and farmers, traded with salt water fishermen on the coast and some copper ornaments smelted in Cherokee country turned up in Southwestern pueblos, where they grew the “three sisters” crops on dry land farms and built with stucco. When the Spanish proved unable to keep track of their livestock, many tribes took up the buffalo culture on the Great Plains. Athabascan speakers live in icy Alaska and desert Utah. We know diversity.

To the colonists, we are all “Indians,” one of the most exotic minorities in modern politics. We all have this experience at some point if we leave home: “Do you want to be called Indian or Native American?” Tribal identity requires explanation, and it does get tiresome."

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Steve Russell: Indians and Diversity, Part 1 (Indian Country Today 5/3)

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